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Apple iSight Camera ReviewsReturn to News Page

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Reader reports on Apple iSight Camera
Posted: June 25th, 2003
Last Updated: Feb. 19th, 2004 (iSight 1.0.2 update)

Apple iSight 1.0.2 Update Available (released Feb, 19th, 2004) Software Update in 10.3.2 (also in 10.2.8) shows an iSight 1.0.2 update. Here's the info from the SU panel:

" The iSight 1.0.2 update provides improved auto exposure and auto white balance functionality, enhanced IIDC compliance and better overall performance. The iSight 1.0.2 update is recommended for all iSight users.

For information about iSight, visit the Apple website at http://www.apple.com/isight/. For iSight support information, visit http://www.apple.com/support/isight/. "

After downloading the update it prompts you to plug in an iSight to update it. (iSight here had v1.0, which was then updated.) The update is also available at http://www.apple.com/isight/download/ which notes 10.2.8 or 10.3.2 or later required.

This page has reader feedback on the Apple iSight camera announced at WWDC2003. (Most recent reports first - also see below for a report w/screenshots of iSight camera mode adjustments with iSPQ software.)

iSight + iChat AV Tip for under 600MHz G3 Systems: This is the first report of an under 600MHz G3 working with iChatAV and the iSight using software noted in the July 14th main site news page originally for USB webcams.

(added July 15th, 2003)
" Hi Mike, Installing iChatUSBCam(beta2) (see http://www.ecamm.com/mac/ichatusbcam-Mike) with the accompanying required programs (macam 0.8 and Application Enhancer) allowed the use of a USB webacm on G3's with less than the required 600 MHz speed. I tried it on an iBook 500. The video was choppy but liveable. (Performance is primarily why Apple requires a G4 or a faster G3)
When you first launch iChat, only the audio icon comes out beside your name. You have to go to the Video menu and click on "Enable Camera". The camera icon then comes out and clicking on it will allow you to see a preview and set up preferences. You do have to enable the camera everytime you launch iChat.

An added bonus : With iChatUSBCAM installed, you can use your iSight camera on G3's with less than the required 600MHz speed!
Jose L.
(Since the iChatUSB cam page had a note that about reports it didn't work with Firewire cams with under 600MHz G3 CPUs, I asked Jose to verify he actually tried it with an iSight and he wrote)

Yes, I am using an iSight with an iBook G3 500. I have also successfully used iSight on a PowerBook Pismo G3 500. You do have to enable the camera from the menu every time you launch iChat though.
Jose "

This may not work with every configuration since the iChatUSB Cam page has a note:

    "FireWire cameras on an "unsupported" G3:
    Although iChatUSBCam Beta 2 enables video conferencing on "unsupported" G3's for users of USB webcams, many beta users have reported that FireWire cams are not enabled. We are working on this problem and hope to have it resolved in the next release."

But if any other G3 owners under the 600MHz requirement find it works with an iSight or other Firewire camera, let me know (include system/camera, etc. details in reports).

(added June 30th, 2003)
" I got an iSight on Friday and have been playing with it for a while. I have a PowerBook G4 667 Mhz (Rev B) and although I already own a DV camera, I wanted something that was much simpler to set up, which the iSight does wonderfully. It's pretty wild being able to walk around with my laptop and televideo wirelessly. I do wish I could have mutliple streams, and send a feed to several people at once... oh, well, hopefully they'll enable that in version 1.0...

I had some problems trying to get iChat and iSight to establish a video connection with my girlfriend's iBook. I set hers up just like I set up mine up (including Firewall settings and opening up the suggested ports, AIM and 5298), but still no go...
(See the firewall port info noted earlier here on the iChat AV Beta reports page linking to this Apple Kbase doc noting iChat AV uses UDP Port 5060 and for video conferencing, ports in the range of 16384 to 16403.-Mike )

The picture quality is ok. I am a little dissapointed after hearing the Job's mega-hype-machine say you could do 30fps... The most I've been able to achieve is 15fps, and it's pretty damn pixelated. I wonder what compressor/decompressor apple is using... With all the hype over h.263, 3GGP, etc on Quicktime 6.3, I was really hoping to see much better video quality... not here yet. (A G4 CPU reportedly does much better than a G3.)

Overall though I am quite impressed. It is a technology that when you play with it, it makes you say Wow!, this is going to change everything. I found that it is a different form of communication; it's not like talking on the phone or in person. but it's own thing. I can't wait to see how and what we start to do with it.
Ronny "

(added June 30th, 2003)
" I have a imac 500mhz machine and a ibook 700mhz. iChat AV works with isight on the ibook 700 as you would expect but on the imac 500 it does not as you would expect but i can use the isight with way better controls on the ispq software. So when the isight is plugged into the imac 500 i use ispq software and when i am on the ibook 700 i use both ichat and ispq.

I really hope apple implements all the controls from ispq in ichat. the control of the image in ispq makes the camera amazing especially in low light. But all the changes in ispq will not improve the dark image in ichat av.
tw "

(added June 30th, 2003)
" I have a Powerbook G4 12" laptop and ordered iSight the day it came out. It arrived two days later and it is by far the best web camera I have seen for the Mac so far. I did notice however the firewire cable was much longer than I would have liked, and left it coiled up behind the computer. Searching Apple's web sight I saw they had an Apple branded 0.5m cable for sale (19", 6 pin to 6pin fire wire thin cable) and ordered it, but on close inspection of the picture on the web site and the mounting sleeve of the iSight I was not sure it would fit.
The cable arrived today and works perfectly, it eliminates all cable clutter and matches the one shipped with the iSight exactly only being shorter. I would recommend it as a companion purchase for anyone with a laptop from apple.
(I asked if the iSight got hot in extended use, as a reader commented on earlier in a report below-Mike)
Mike, The iSight does get a little warm, but not nearly as much as the left palm rest on my 12" G4 Powerbook... I have gotten used to the heat on the laptop, when you first put your hand on it, it does seem hot, but if you leave it there the sensation changes to just very warm, not enough to make it uncomfortable to use. The iSight never seems more than a little warmer than room temp. All in all, this is the best Mac I have ever had, seen, or I think Apple has made (the new G5s however may give it a run for the money ;), and the iSight is a totally kick ass addition. I love this set up, and with the OS additions that keep coming, I am really glad to have stayed with Apple. There was a time I was thinking about moving to XP, now, I don't give it a second thought.

(reports from June 27th and before follow)

Camera Adjustment using iSPQ Software:

"Every aspect of the iSight camera is controllable, despite the fact that iChat AV doesn't yet allow you to control it. Concerns about the iSight needing more light than the average camera is simply a software issue... You can even control the iSight's focus manually. I discovered these controls using iSPQ web chatting software.
Daniel S."

I assume he's talking about the videochat software from www.ispq.com. Here's the images he sent (cropped to trim sizes)

iSight adjustment screen1

iSight adjustment screen2

iSight adjustment screen3

(A previous report follows)

A reader says his iSight has Cool features and is Hot - literally:

" I've got an iSight to play with for the next few days and here are a few observations:

The iSight requires iChat AV installation just to work with other apps like QuickTime Broadcaster. It doesn't work in iMovie from what I can tell.

When you plug in iSight and open the shutter, iChat launches automagically. Pretty smart idea if you ask me, considering there will be lots of tech unsavvy video iChatters.

Now here's something really cool and thoughtful...While listening to music in iTunes, accepting an audio or video iChat stops the music! I'm surprised I haven't heard this mentioned by anybody else.

iSight gets really hot...really really hot, though not quite Apple PowerBook/iBook AC adapter hot.

iSight gets so hot it makes me paranoid that I shouldn't leave it on all the time, which is unfortunate because there's no real way to turn it off other than unplugging it or shutting down your Mac. Closing the shutter merely mutes the video.
That's all I've discovered for now.
--Eugene C.
(he later wrote)
After experimenting with it for another few hours or so I've got one more thing to add.

I just tried attaching my iSight to a PC running Windows XP and it works marginally well with Windows Movie Maker as a capture device provided you use a narrow range of capture settings. I was able to find two settings that worked reasonably well: 320x240 @ 30 fps or 640x480 @ 15 fps. With other settings the image was completely garbled. "

I doubt I'd use it very much personally, but I like the design and features of the iSight. The aluminum body acts like a heatsink apparently.

I welcome other iSight owner comments. (Include your system/OS/software details in reports)

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